Rugby Supporter Etiquette: an early season whinge

With the season barely a few days old, Alex Harking has a few things to get off his chest about crowd etiquette at rugby matches, and I think we can all relate to some of these.

Rugby CrowdWe Rugby fans are largely a well-behaved, polite and generous lot, and a visit to a game is almost exclusively a pleasant experience. There are still, however, things about the modern rugby supporter and the rugby experience that annoy me. With the new season just underway I felt it was time to air these in order for us all to have a cracking year.

So I’m going to get them off my chest and encourage you to do the same. It should be quite therapeutic…

1. Beer
A beer at the rugby must be done. Despite the usual extortionate prices, you have to have some lubrication to get the vocal chords going. But please please please don’t get up three times during the first half to go and get the rounds in, disturbing the whole row in the process who want to watch the rugby.

Why not just buy a couple before kick off, sit back, and relax safe in the knowledge that supplies are at hand? Oh and if you do have to disturb my viewing pleasure and barge past me, say thank you at least.

2. Appreciation
Clap both your team and the opposition, that’s only polite – when you win you will feel all the more better for it. And never ever boo whilst someone is kicking – we heard some of this at the Guinness Premiership final last season, and it added a slightly sour note to an otherwise glorious occasion.

3. Referees
I’m fed up with some supporters giving the referee grief about decisions they make. They don’t intentionally make mistakes and whilst I sit idly in the stand I will continue to give them my support. With the change in law interpretations this year, there are bound to be decisions that don’t go your way, but there will probably be as many that do, so just get on with it.

4. Kids
Kids are the future – and I mean that sincerely. Rugby will be carried forward on their shoulders and it’s great to see them exposed to the highest levels of our game. However, they shouldn’t be allowed to ruin anyone’s viewing pleasure by running repeatedly over their feet to the toilet or by draping their flag over their face. Please keep them under control.

5. Final Whistle
Regardless of the result rugby fans should accept victory and defeat gracefully and enjoy a beer with your fellow rugby supporters. Despite the intenslely competitive nature of our sport there is no room for bitterness and squabbles in rugby.

Wow I feel better…is there anything you’d like to share with the group?

By Alex Harking

11 thoughts on “Rugby Supporter Etiquette: an early season whinge

  1. Respect for the kicker. Following the RWC win in ’03, a whole new audience came to rugby which I was delighted about for the future of the game. Sadly, several of them seem to be of the type that have given football a bad name in their die hard patriotism and partisan nature that serves only to offend. It’s since that time that Twickenham, no more obvious an example, has heard whistles and boos anytime an opposition kicker is stood in preparation. It appalls me, annoys me and has provoked announcers to have to remind the crowd of the sport’s standards. How embarrassing.

  2. Why should the kicker be given respect by everybody keeping silent but no other players? Surely the crowd should keep silent when a lineout is being taken or a try about to be scored or a scrum is being set.

  3. I think the point is that booing as a player is lining up a kick is deliberately trying to put him off, which isn’t really in the spirit of the game.

    Nobody tries to distract a whole pack of forwards in the hope that they make a mess of setting a scrum.

  4. In a thread on a club forum a year or so ago there was a discussion about how dreadful it was that some people made a noise when the oppo team’s kicker was going about his business. In the same thread the posters were congratulating each other for drowning the lineout cals from opposition’s hooker.

    I have never read a kicker saying noise puts him off, I have read a few say silence puts them off.

    It’s all rather hyprocritical.

  5. Steve,

    I personally think that in the first instance silence should be kept for all kickers. If a specific kicker wants noise then he should somehow inform his clubs supporters. Also I personally havent heard fans trying to put off a lineout thrower when he is making a call, but if that is the case I think it is a little bit sad and surely ultimately unsuccesful?

  6. Nobody has ever told me why silence should be kept for kickers. It just seems to be one of those things which some people do and get very annoyed about when others don’t. Frankly it all seems a bit silly.

  7. Most of the points are acceptable. Refs. Well the old saying is true, a good ref is when you dont realise he is there. A bad one is noted.

  8. Steve – silence doesn’t necessarily have to be kept for the kickers, you are correct that it doesn’t really put them off. However it is one of the endearing quirks about rugby that supporters in general go out of their way to respect the opposition players and fans. Lose that and you lose the fundamental reason why a lot of us love the game so much.

    It’s a similar thing for the ref debate. If you are noting a particular referee is consistently incorrect about decisions there’s a good chance his assessor is noting it too. It doesn’t need to be shouted from the stands – especially not in ear shot of youngsters. I can think of nothing worse for the sport than if fans and players started shouting at the ref all the time.

    On a positive note I’ve been watching all the highlights of the start of the season and it looks as though there’s going to be plenty of good rugby around. Still looks like Oz, SA and NZ are a level above the N Hemisphere but that’s been the case for years now until a World Cup comes around!

  9. I’ve always thought the silence thing was a nonsense. We make a racket on the oppo’s lineout, and for some poor fb or winger about to catch a high ball. 20 years ago I remember very hostile crowds in some places – particularly the Forest of Dean. Playing on the wing I’d get all sorts of abuse, most designed to get a laugh, some not. At one club I won’t mention (as I’m sure they’ve evolved) I was even spat at.

    There is no descent into thuggery amongst rugby supporters, the attendances are simply bigger so the likelihood of out-of-place noise, people/flags/kids, etc. obscuring the view is inevitable.

  10. I’ve been going to Tigers matches since 1996 and my older brother since 1989, every home game we lost the team is booed off or the ref is or the opposition has “cheats” chanted at them, its what has happend long before the alleged boom in attendances and always will. I hate this happy clappy isn’t everything marvallous idea that seems to have spread, its a game that is there to be won and everyone wants to win, to pretend otherwise is a nonsense. I love the story after the Lander final that the team smashed up the glass tankards they got for losing.

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